The Minister of State with responsibility for Insurance has said Irish people are too quick to sue when they are involved in an accident.
Junior minister Michael D’Arcy told Newstalk Breakfast the high level of insurance payouts in Ireland is encouraging members of the pubic to lawyer up.
He said the average payouts in Ireland are nearly five times higher than they are in the UK.
He said that has fostered a “litigious nature” among Irish people.
“I have a simple test,” he said.
“If some of these accidents happened in your brother’s house of your sister’s house, would you sue your brother r sister for negligence?
“But when it happens in a business, it seems like, ‘oh, they are insured, that is OK’ and that mindset is prevailing right now and it is prevailing mainly because the awards of very high.”
He said the Government is working to tackle rising insurance premiums – with employer public liability insurance now the biggest issue facing his office.
He said insurers are now refusing to cover businesses in many sectors due to the high levels of awards.
“The levels of awards in Ireland – in particular for the smaller, lower grade issues are multiple times what they are in the UK,” he said.
“There is one line that encompasses everything about insurance – if you have high awards; you are going to have high premiums.
“We have some of the highest awards in the world.”
He said the Government is waiting on a body of work from the Law Reform Commission which will indicate whether the Oireachtas has the power to put a cap on awards.
A separate piece of legislation, aimed at establishing a judicial council to recalibrate the Book of Quantum is currently held up behind the Judicial Appointments Bill in the Seanad.
Mr D’Arcy said he is “very hopeful” he will be able to move legislation forward before the summer recess.